Consumer Weather Perceptions Argue for Twins Stadium Roof, Not Weather Data

One of the most persistent water cooler topics in the Twins Cities over the last few years has been this: “Should the Twins put a roof on their new outdoor stadium?”

On the Opening Day of the Twins season, Jay Wiener at the online news publication MinnPost (anyone reading it?) had some typically insightful reporting on this subject. The crux of his analysis:

So, including today, since 1961, that’s seven home openers out of 48 — or about 15 percent – that would have been problematic. But, if Opening Day were pushed each time beyond April 15, it looks like all but one of those snow/rain/cold days would have been avoided.

Interesting. But if these are the data the Twins used for their their roof decision, their analysis was incomplete. To me, the sales loss associated with going lidless goes beyond ACTUAL weather cancellations. Losses also will be associated with something else, the consumer’s perception that there is a constantly LOOMING THREAT of weather cancellations, or, just as importantly, a miserable experience.

After all, in marketing consumer perceptions about the product matter more than the actual product attributes. If buyers are convinced Yugos are lemons, it doesn’t really matter all that much if the reliability data actually tells a different story. And if Twins fans are convinced that the chances of cancellation or a bad experience are high, it really doesn’t matter if the weather data tell a sunnier story.

For this reason, I hope the roof decision was viewed through the prism of surveys and focus groups deeply probing consumer perceptions and concerns about weather, not just historic weather charts. The number of Opening Day weather-related cancellations is interesting and partially relevant, but it strikes me you have to go much deeper into consumer angst about Minnesota weather.

• APRIL/SEPTEMBER BOYCOTTS. How many families will boycott individual tickets in April and September in anticipation of the higher liklihood for cancellations and bad experiences?

• PREEMPTIVE DOWNSIZING. How many families will opt for PARTIAL season ticket packages, rather than FULL season packages, in order to avoid the weeks when the perception is that cancellations and bad experiences are likely?

• FROZEN OUT. How many families ultimately will not renew their ticket packages with the memory of a miserable experience(s) frozen into their brain?

• NON-METRO NO SHOWS. How many non-metro Twins fans and their families will eliminate or severely limit their Twins road trips because a multi-ticket forfeiture due to a weather cancellation seems too possible to risk the cash?

OK, I realize the following “analysis” is ridiculously back of the envelope. But I kinda sorta have a real job, so this is the best I can do between conference calls and emails. Here goes: If the Twins stadium is used for 30 years, the $200 million cost of a roof spreads out to about $6.6 million per year. Let’s say the average amount a fan dumps at the park per game — tickets, food, beer, trinkets — over those 30 years is $75. I have no idea if this number is reasonable, but remember MLB inflation rate is not exactly the same as the normal inflation rate. Given all that, it would take the loss of just 88,000 fans over 81 home games per year (3.4 million total annual capacity in the new stadium) to justify the cost of the roof.

For all of the aforementioned reasons related to consumer weather-related perceptions, might that be possible?

– Loveland

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15 thoughts on “Consumer Weather Perceptions Argue for Twins Stadium Roof, Not Weather Data

  1. Dave Jackson says:

    Joe, sure it might be possible. As possible as it would be in Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Boston and any other cold-weather city that doesn’t have a roof. How many fans does Florida or Texas lose because people don’t want to sit in a frying pan in the middle of the summer? For that matter, how many fans aren’t coming to Twins games or aren’t buying full season-ticket packages because they can’t stomach the nice summer nights indoors?

    Ultimately, the success or failure of the Twins stadium comes down to the team’s success. If the Twins are in the World Series, or have a chance to compete for the World Series, fans will line up in rain, snow or sunshine. That’s the case for every sports team, anywhere in the country. Winning – or the hope of it – sells tickets more than anything else.

    Another point: While it might seem interesting now to analyze the relative cost of a dome, when the stadium bill was going through the legislature, if the Twins added $200 million to the tab, it never would have passed. Nobody would have been savvy enough to do your analysis of cost-per-year (which is valid and quite good) and the accompanying benefit. That wouldn’t have played in St. Paul. And we’d still be decrying the Dome and reading Sid columns of how Pohlad is threatening to sell the team or Selig threatening to relocate it. What got done was the best of the options available.

    At this point, it makes more sense to focus about the product the Twins are putting on the field, and making sure it’s the best it can be when the new park opens.


  2. jloveland says:

    Agree with all that DJ. Especially the “win baby” part. And good to hear from you. It’s been too long.

    I’m thinking more about Carl Pohlad’s calculation on a roof, not the Legislature’s. Agree the Legislature never would have approved a roof expense. But I naively wondered whether Carl might announce after the bill passed that he had decided to roof it on, gasp, the Twins’ dime.

    My topic here is whether the Pohlads made a good ROI decision in rejecting the option of paying for a roof themselves. I’m not convinced they did.

  3. Eileen says:

    Real ballparks don’t have roofs. I am happy the Pohlads didn’t waste the money. Personally, I received the perfect birthday gift last year. A stadium blanket that is wool on one side and water resistant on the other. I’m ready for 2010!

    To be honest, I’m most worried about the 95+ degree game days in July and August. Could be too hot and humid to drink beer.

  4. jloveland says:

    You’re much tougher than me Eileen. I love the romanticism of roofless, but not the slush in lap part.

    I’m not a fair weather fan when it comes to wins, but I most definitely am when it comes to weather. When it’s inclement, I’m in climate control. Maybe there are enough Eileens in Minnesota though.

  5. I’m one of those fans who goes to more games than my wife cares for – and that’s with a lid. Just like my Jeep Wrangler, you peel the lid of the thing, and it’s at least 15 times more awesome (back of the envelope calculation).

    So sure, some might be more inclined to stay away. But many more will be compelled by a force for which there is no defense: baseball in the sun.

  6. jloveland says:

    But, would you love the Jeep Wrangler as much if the roof were permanently off April-October? Remember, your Wrangler offers the advantage of a retractable roof.

    Having a retractable roof wouldn’t have taken away baseball in the sun. The advantages of baseball in the sun would have remained, but the disadvantages of baseball in storms would have been mitigated.

    There’s no question to me that there is an economic disadvantage associated with being roofless. There is a very real question of degree, however. The question for the Pohlads is whether those disadvantages would have had an accumulative economic impact of $200 million over 30 years, and whether the $200 million investment in a roof would have led to at least that much equity in the event of the sale of the team.

  7. Dave Jackson says:

    You won’t remember this week when you’re sitting inside the Dome on a beautiful Sunday in June or a warm night in August. You’ll be longing for the outdoor stadium.

  8. jloveland says:

    Agree about the Dome. Hate it. I have a share in season tickets and most years I try to get most of my games early when the weather is crappy. Can’t stand being in there when it’s nice outside. I’ll take the opposite strategy starting in 2010, avoiding the early dates like the plague. I understand why the Pohlads didn’t want a permanent roof, but I don’t understand why they didn’t spring for a convertible. I was watching the Twins-Royals games in KC this weekend, on TV with a fire in the fireplace. The Royals are in first place for the first time in God knows how long, and the place is empty save a handful of hypothermatic homers.

  9. Dave says:

    I have to say. A roof would be great!
    I had sex with my daughters best friend in the metrodome.
    No one saw it because there was a roof.
    I loved how she rolled her tongue and her legs were on my legs.
    She kissed like an angel.
    Her breasts were as soft as my pillow.

  10. Kelly Groehler says:

    Well, Jon, not only were you correct about the traffic patterns, it appears some guests are compelled to inject a little of their own (ahem) experience into the discourse on their way out. Dandy!

  11. Jon Austin says:

    Well, that certainly spikes the “Weird Shit-o-Meter”. Just a testament to the very, very wide range of SRC participants.

    – Austin

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